SA Elections 2014: Party leaders cause a stir at the polls

From Jacob Zuma attracting large crowds in Nkandla to Helen Zille ditching the DA’s colours, here’s what happened when party presidents voted.

President Jacob Zuma cast his vote amidst an ecstatic reception at the Ntolwane Primary School in KwaNxamalala, Nkandla, on late Wednesday morning.

Ululating crowds jostled to get up close to the president and raised their cellphones and tablets to snap photos as the president stood in the voting queue with other residents at the polling station. Wearing a lightly checked cream jacket and pale mauve shirt, he was full of smiles for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) staff as he slotted his ballot papers into the correct boxes.

After he made his mark, he told journalists waiting outside that his vote was secret, before chuckling heartily. “The results will be very good,” he told the media, who were scrambling to get a comment from him.

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille ditched her party’s blue and white colours on Wednesday in favour of purple.

The decision to do so was deliberate, her personal assistant Janine Schouw told the South African Press Association. “It makes her stand out more … and it will look good on camera,” she said. Earlier, Zille arrived at St Paul’s Church in Rondebosch, Cape Town, to cast her vote wearing a long purple coat over a purple top and black skirt, with matching purple high-heel shoes and a purple necklace.

She was accompanied by her husband Johann Maree, who was more casually dressed. Schouw said Zille was coming to the polls “as a normal South African voter”. Asked why she had chosen purple, Schouw admitted to spending only “about 2%” of her time advising her boss on fashion and the rest on other matters. She said the colour “went well” with Zille’s skin tone.

Malema in Seshego
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema arrived at the Mponegele Primary School in Seshego, Limpopo, to cast his vote on Wednesday.

Malema arrived two hours after the voting station opened in his hometown. Earlier, EFF and ANC supporters had a verbal altercation after ANC members set up a tent and distributed T-shirts bearing the face of Zuma.

EFF members accused the ANC of lobbying for votes at the voting station. Police and IEC officials intervened and the matter was resolved. EFF member Josi Buthane expressed disappointment at the IEC, saying the electoral body was not enforcing the IEC regulations properly. He said they should have stopped ANC members from distributing T-shirts at the polling station.

There was a heavy police presence in the area. Malema’s party is contesting the election for the first time. Some analysts in Limpopo believe the EFF could take seats currently occupied by other opposition parties in the provincial legislature. Malema was head of the ANC Youth League until he was expelled from the ruling party.

Also voting on Wednesday was Agang SA leader Mamphele Ramphele, who surprised voters when she arrived to make her mark at the Sea Point library voting station in Cape Town in the morning.

“Good morning citizens!” she shouted, as she made her way past the long queue in an emerald and black suit. Residents seemed excited and took photos as Ramphele went inside to vote.

Inked thumb
She graciously accepted a bouquet of proteas wrapped in green cellophane from a voter. Five minutes later, she came out and proudly showed off her inked thumb. She reminisced about voting in Boston in the United States of America 20 years ago, when she was there on sabbatical.

“When you have a first experience – it doesn’t matter what it is and we won’t go too far into that – you always are emotional,” she said. “I wept the whole way through and wept in the evening when we saw the results.” She said she was now filled with joy because the country had been given enough time to learn to be a mature democracy.

“I am very proud of being part of the process to raise the bar on political discourse in South Africa.”

She was expected to make her way to Langa, Philippi and Muizenberg later on Wednesday morning and fly to Johannesburg in the afternoon to meet with residents of Bekkersdal. – Sapa

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